Feminist Supremacists and gender selective abortion

Gender selective abortion

I’m still suffering from severe morning sickness, which is making life particularly difficult in terms of writing and blogging, because for some reason I am yet to fathom, more than about 10 minutes in front of a screen, be it computer, tablet or phone, sends me hurtling towards the bathroom, which makes life a little tricky when you are trying to cobble together some additional income from freelance writing.

All of which means I’m a little late to the party when it comes to the topic of sex-selective abortion, which this week as been at the top of the UK pro-life agenda, with the Crown Prosecution Service deciding that it is not in the public interest to prosecute doctors who were discovered by the Daily Telegraph breaking the law, in that they were happy to approve second trimester abortions on the grounds of the sex of the unborn baby.

There isn’t therefore much to add to the excellent post by Catholic Voices which points out that this decision not to prosecute shortens the path to a eugenic society, but it’s certainly worth visiting this Facebook page which gives some guidance as to how to write to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, who has also expressed his concern.

One question that is troubling me as the mother of four beautiful girls, who is in all likelihood experiencing her last pregnancy on health grounds, is whether or not there are those who would justify a decision to abort this baby if we were to discover that it was another girl? In my particular situation, which is probably more typical of the Western mindset, an abortion would be justified not because a girl is deemed to be of lesser value as in other cultures, but simply because we have this skewed notion of a perfect or balanced family. Someone has, in all innocence, asked me the question ‘are you just going to keep going until you get a boy’, a notion that is incredibly hurtful as it implies that there is something wrong with my beautiful girls, or that I am in some way dissatisfied and will remain unfulfilled until I have a child of the opposite gender.

Were I to have four boys, the issue would be exactly the same, it would be assumed that I am somehow desperate for a girl, the issue is not about feminism or misandry, although I have to say that my observation is that most women would like a daughter at some stage, most men a son, the desire for a specific gender seems to be more entangled with individual gender identity issues than with a cultural norm. There are various myths about raising genders, many of which are nothing more than projection or whimsy, i.e. that girls are easy as children and nightmarish as teenagers, and many parents seem to want to have a same-sex offspring in order to cultivate a rather unhealthy friendship type of relationship. Some women crave daughters to go shopping or get their nails done with, some men want sons in order to take to the pub and play football with, wanting their children to be an extension or better version of themselves.

So before we are too disparaging about cultures that are unapologetic about a strong gender preference in children, we also ought to examine our own cultural attitudes towards gender selection and perhaps think more carefully before embarking on thoughtless banter, such as “another girl oh no, how disappointing, you really need to give him his boy” which is what a former parishioner said to me as I limped into Mass, 4 days post c-section proudly holding my baby girl, delighted to have made the Easter vigil.

There will be feminists out there who would experience dissonance were I to announce that I would abort this baby on the grounds that it was a girl, torn between disgust at the patriarchal attitude implicit in the decision, but also supporting my right to choose and have control over my own body. On the other hand there will be feminists who would condone such a decision on the spurious grounds of mental health, claiming that if  a girl would cause me such mental distress and given that this could well be my last opportunity for a baby, then I should be free to choose, having already done my bit for the sisterhood. Others would take an unashamed attitude, reasoning that the reasons behind abortion are irrelevant, it is my decision that should take precedence. Wanting to abort a baby is a good enough reason in and of itself.

Admittedly it is enormously distasteful and more than a little traumatic to be hypothetically discussing whether or not I would be justified in killing my unborn child. But it goes to show that far from being concerned with equality, the nature of modern feminism is to do with supremacy. Recently I was interviewed by the broadcaster and theologian Vicky Beeching, on whether or not it was possible to be a pro-life feminist, to which one feminist replied ‘no, because the rights of a woman come before those of a foetus’. Whereas any pro-lifer worth their salt, will tell you that the two lives are of equal value. One should not be sacrificed for the other and even in those extremely difficult and rare cases, where a mother’s life could be put at risk, every effort should be made to preserve both lives. No pro-lifer would advocate for a law which would entail a pregnant mother being denied life-saving medical treatment, even if it were to mean that her unborn child may die as a result.

This type of militant feminism doesn’t strike me as being concerned with the rights of equality or the most vulnerable, what a woman wants, she must have, regardless of the impact upon other people and regardless of whether or not the killing of a baby girl contributes to and reaffirms a culture of misogyny. I’ve also yet to hear this argument framed in terms of whether or not it’s acceptable to abort unborn baby boys on the basis of gender. Whether or not it is a widespread practice is irrelevant, if it’s not okay to kill a girl on the basis of gender, it’s not okay to kill a boy and as Fr Lucie-Smith highlights, it’s a small step from denouncing sex-selective abortion to being pro-life.  Perhaps that’s why the silence from the feminists has been overwhelming.

The question should not be is it possible to be a feminist and pro-life but rather is it possible to be a feminist and support the killing of your unborn sisters, simply because they happen to have been created female? What kind of ideology is it that will throw one more baby girl down the sluice in the name of female emancipation?

I know it’s only RocknRoll…

You can be blasé about some things Kate, but not about marriage...
You can be blasé about some things Kate, but not about marriage…

There’s been something of a brouhaha following the publication of an admittedly acerbic article by Judith Rogers in the Daily Telegraph that called the oscar-winning actress tacky, after her announcement that she is expecting her third baby by her third husband, later this year.

In typical fashion various feminist commentators laid into Ms Rogers and the Telegraph with accusations of misogyny and the ubiquitous ‘slut-shaming’ label. A second article was then hastily churned out by the newspaper’s Wonderwoman section, in condemnation of the first.

A few observations. While sharp, the original article had a point in that it highlighted the folly of having three children by three different men. Before I go any further I am well aware that I lay myself open to charges of blatant hypocrisy as my relationship history has not been unblemished. I too attempted a marriage not in possession of a full understanding of what that meant and lacking the emotional maturity to realise that my judgement was flawed. Mea maxima culpa.

I would not attempt to justify, promote or validate my past as being ideal, nor would I seek to deny the devastating effect that divorce has upon children of a marriage, even if matters are resolved in a civilised fashion and former partners manage to avoid the trap that so many fall into of using their children as weapons or co-opting them into taking a particular side. It is painful and unsettling for children when their biological parents are not living together, they are subject to regular disruption, forced to live in two different homes, and always feeling slightly apart or different from their parents’ new families, a separateness that is reinforced by the fact that they may not even share the same surname as their mother or father’s families. When one of the parents re-marries, the child has to bond with and accept an additional parental figure of authority in their home, the new spouse, like it or not, bears an element of responsibility for the child living under their roof. We are fortunate as a family, there is no question for my eldest daughter that she is an equally valued and loved member of her stepfather’s family, she enjoys a close and loving bond with her stepfather alongside her relationship with her adoring biological father but there are still moments of pain and tears when visits end. It is a better situation than various alternatives, but it is not the ideal that all children deserve. It would be deceptive to claim otherwise.

The ‘problem’ is not one of sexual ethics, credit where credit is due, Kate Winslet is expecting a baby within a marital relationship, the ideal context. The difficulty lies not in her pregnancy, but that she does not appear to treat the bond of marriage entirely seriously. Either that, or she’s been incredibly unlucky, but from what was reported in the press, the break-up of her first marriage came entirely at her instigation with her former husband , Jim Threappleton joining the pressure group ‘Fathers for Justice’ as he seemingly does not get enough access to their daughter.

Multiple marriages or serial monogamy have a devastating effect on children and my eyebrows were raised not at the prospect of her pregnancy but at her third marriage which came after a relatively short courtship to a man who had recently changed his birth name to ‘Rocknroll’ by deed poll. It’s not indicative of maturity, each to their own, but with two children by different fathers and having ditched her previous model boyfriend upon meeting her spouse, it’s certainly doesn’t give the impression of a man who is giving much thought to responsibility and is an interesting choice for mother of two in her late thirties.

Perhaps having amassed considerable wealth as a result of her career, Kate is none too concerned about permanence as she has financial stability and is able to financially support herself should things go horribly wrong, but it seems fair to question the effect of the emotional stability upon her children. That will be the third father-figure in her eldest daughter’s life and doesn’t exactly model marriage in a good light as being a lifetime permanent stable commitment for her children.

This isn’t a misogynist attitude either, I have as little time for men who indulge in similar behaviour, I know I’ll cause gross offence if my former colleague Yvonne reads this, such is her passion for Rod Stewart, but he’s one such offender. Charlie Sheen is another who comes to mind. There will be plenty more.

 It’s fair to note that women celebrities are more prone to being singled out for this disapprobation than men, so perhaps there is a slight element of misogyny, but of more concern is the element of class here. I don’t see the feminists rallying round to the defence of Katie Price, who has open season declared on her private life, (not helped by the fact she aids, abets and positively invites comments with her regular magazine spreads and reality shows) but the general consensus seems to be that La Price is trashy and vulgar for being on her third husband and expecting her fourth baby by her third different man, whereas Kate Winslet should be above judgement, because she is a beautiful and talented, Oscar-winning actress from a middle-class family.

Where's the sisterhood sticking up for the other thrice married Kate?
Where’s the sisterhood sticking up for the other thrice married Kate?

This isn’t about money, but about class. Society does still stigmatise those who have multiple children by multiple men and women but the difference is whether or not they have the funds not to be a burden on the taxpayer. Transfer Kate Winslet into a tracksuit on a council estate, aged 37, expecting her third child by her third husband and the moral neutrality and relativism would vanish.

Articles such as Judith Rogers’ may be the literary equivalent of pursing one’s lips into the shape of a cat’s bottom, but it’s noteable that the Daily Telegraph have attacked Winslet, one of their own, as opposed to Katie Price who they would not normally sully their pages with. Here is a middle-class publication casting judgement on a middle-class woman, one to whom many would aspire on account of her ability to look good when taking her clothes off in films, dazzle in glamourous gowns on the red carpet and her undeniable talent as an actress. The Kate Winslet brand previously exuded class, a few errors of judgement and the lustre is beginning to look a little tarnished.

Bearing in mind that as Christians we need to speak the truth but with charity, I wish both of the Kates, Winslet and Price well. We have to remember that people are not means to an end, but human beings with feelings. Being hated on for the crime of being pregnant by one’s new husband cannot be pleasant and doesn’t do much to spread Gospel values, although Christ was clear about the importance of marriage. Jesus doesn’t simply reference marriage but talks about it as God’s plan for humanity from the very beginning, as John Paul II reflected upon in his Theology of the Body.

In all societies since time immemorial, people who have deviated from societal norms or indulged in patterns of behaviour to the detriment of the common good have been ostracised. Fortunately these days we have moved away from public shaming practices lacking in compassion and mercy and are more tolerant and open to the prospect of forgiveness.

Newspapers reflect the interests and views of their readership nonetheless, which is why the Daily Telegraph will be passing judgement on Kate Winslet, the Daily Express or the The Sun, on Katie Price. We can but hope that it is third time lucky for these two women, not least for the sake of their children. It is perfectly acceptable to note that neither seem to possess much wisdom in terms of choice of spouse and/or value the commitment of marriage.

 There are those who, in the absence of any spiritual or moral formation take their cues from the rich and famous. Multiple children by multiple surviving former spouses is not in the best interests of individuals, children, families or society as a whole. It is neither misogynistic,  narrow-minded or judgemental to point this out. It shows that public disproval can still be a powerful tool. Kate Winslet is no victim, despite the clamouring of the feminist lobby to claim her as their latest figurehead. Their silence over the similar press treatment of Katie Price,  for her sexual antics, speaks volumes. They are as elitist as the patriarchy they claim to despise.